Give God your worries; He cares for you.
~1 Peter 5:7
The dark night stretched on and on, a fierce wind blowing against my shivering body. I stumbled and fell into a shallow ditch I didn’t see. Twigs and branches scratched at my face and hands. “God, help me!” I cried out, wondering if He could hear me above the howl of the wind.
“I’m here,” God said gently as He lifted me up onto my feet.
“Thank you,” I said, pulling small sticks out of my hair. I leaned into the wind, and once more, began walking.
“This night is fraught with peril,” God said and raised me up into His strong arms. He carried me all the way home.
The light shines in the darkness.
The sun waved goodbye to the day and slipped below the horizon. I watched from the bench under the pear tree as the last of the light faded from the garden. The twinkle lights on the arbor began to shine in the darkness, casting a sweet glow to the yard. “Those lights have been on all day,” I said. “But they shine best in the darkness. Sorta like you, God.”
“I understand. Even though my light is constant, the darkness makes it appear the brightest,” God answered.
“Yes. You’re my beacon of strength and hope when times are hard. You light the way for me. Thank you,” I replied.
“You are welcome, Sparrow. Please don’t forget that my light is there in the good times as well. Don’t ignore it. Let it lead you all the days of your life, not just when you are troubled or afraid,” God instructed.
I sat in silence for a few moments, pondering His words. “You’re right. I rely on you less when times are good,” I confessed. “I’m sorry.”
“Here, take my hand. Let’s walk back to the cottage,” God invited.
I stood up and God threw a handful of stars across the dark sky. They danced above us, sprinkling their light on our steps as we made our way back home together.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in him, so that you
may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
I can’t remember who taught me how to ride a bicycle. I do remember the dirt lane that I tried to navigate and the big pine tree that I crashed into. I recall the bike wobbling side to side as I desperately tried to keep my balance. It took me quite a few attempts and quite a few falls before I could ride comfortably. But once I learned, there was no stopping me. I rode my bike everywhere. (It was great being a kid in the ’60’s. So much freedom!)
This morning I felt like a part of my life was wobbling side to side and that soon, I’d cash into something. I snapped Shakespeare’s leash to his harness and off we went for a walk. That’s always a good remedy for when I’m stressed out. It didn’t take long until I felt God’s hand on my shoulder. “You’re worried,” He said.
“I’ve got this really big responsibility on my shoulders and I’m not sure I am up for it,” I said. “I’ll feel like an idiot if I make a mistake.”
“If you knew that your big responsibility was part of the plan I had for you, would you feel differently about it?” God asked.
“I’d feel even more stressed! I’d want to be perfect for you!” The minute the words left my mouth I knew how silly they were. I know God doesn’t expect me to be perfect.
“What if I run along beside you, and I guide you, Would you feel better?”
“Would you do that for me?”
“Of course! God said.
I knew that much like learning to ride my bike, I’ll learn how to navigate this big responsibility if God runs along beside me. I may crash from time to time, but once I learn, there will be no stopping me. Wait. Correct that. There will be no stopping us. Once I learn, I’ll be peddling but God will be riding on the handlebars, pointing the way.
“You’ve got this!” God said, and patted me on my back. I grinned from ear to ear.
“Thanks!” I said, and turned towards home.
“In all your ways acknowledge him…”
When God has closed one door but hasn’t opened the next one, praise Him in the hallway. It is sometimes easier said than done, I know. But it’s such good advice to take to heart. No matter what you face today, God is there with you. It’s going to work out for the best, even if the storm seems darker than anything you’ve ever seen before. Hold onto God’s hand and remind yourself that you are in His great care. Don’t tell yourself scary stories and believe them. Don’t rely on your own understanding. Instead, rely on God, fully.
I know the hard times test our faith. It’s a challenge to wrap our heads around why God allows suffering. Instead of asking “Why?” ask “What?” “God, what can I do to serve you while I’m in this place of darkness?” Then praise Him! It’s interesting to note that when we praise God in all things, we re-wire our brains for the better. Praising God actually makes us smarter and healthier in the long run! Praise God today, no matter where you are.
“Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us,
the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”
2 Timothy 1:14
The morning had a bite to it as I shut the door and clambered down the front steps to start my walk. The sky was a pale blue, a welcome sight, given all of the rain we’ve had. My little dog scurried on ahead of me, stretching out the leash, eager to sniff new smells. I walked along and asked God to help me write tomorrow’s Soul Reminder. “What shall I tell them, God?” I asked.
“Tell them that My spirit is inside of them. All they need to do is to push their ego aside and they will find Me. They can rely on Me,” God answered.
I came to a house that had three beautiful yard chickens pecking around in the cool wet ground. The little guttural sounds they made filled my heart with joy. I closed my eyes and listened. “Thank you, God, for these small joys,” I said. I turned to head back home, to write the words God wanted me to share. As I walked the rugged pavement, I thought how easy it is to forget that we house God’s Spirit—how easy it is to rely on our understanding and not rely on God. I resolved to push aside my ego more often so that I am better able to find God’s spirit inside of me and to rely on it.
“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him,”
I pushed my hands together and bowed my head in prayer. “Dear God, some of the decisions I made in the past created challenging consequences for my life. I’ve got some regrets,” I confessed. I sat quietly and waited for God’s reply.
“When you made the decisions, did you feel that they were the best at the time?” He asked.
“Yes. Of course,” I answered.
“Did you learn anything from the decisions?” He questioned.
“Yes,” I replied.
“What did you learn?”
I told God about the lessons I had learned “the hard way.” When I was done, God said, “You learned quite a lot.” I nodded my head. “Are you a better person for having learned those lessons?”
“Of course!” I said.
“So tell me, what was the biggest lesson you learned from your regrets?” God asked.
I pondered the question for a few moments. “The biggest lesson I learned was to trust you more,” I answered honestly.
“Then the decisions that you regret ultimately worked out to the good!” God exclaimed.
“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” I said. “Thank you for pointing that out.”
“Anytime,” God replied. “Come on, let’s go for a walk,” He suggested. I tugged on my boots and leashed Shakespeare. The three of us tumbled out the door together; out into the sharp chill of the winter morning. My steps haven’t felt that light in a long time.